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Design Issues for blind and

partially sighted people

Helen Aluko-olokun
Policy Business Partner (Access and Inclusion)
Guide Dogs
This presentation will cover:

Visual Impairment

Design requirements for blind and partially

sighted people

Shared surface streets

The facts

Only 10% of blind people have no residual vision

Some have peripheral vision
Others have central vision
It is essential that designers take into account the
differing needs of many types of visual
Visual impairment

Peripheral vision - works in low light and detects

Central vision - provides acuity and colour vision
Design must consider:
the best lighting to maximise use of residual vision
the use of strong colour/tonal contrast to identify
Colours are less clear
Extra light may help / may cause white out
Small features difficult to see
Macular degeneration
Poor depth / distance perception
Poor fine colour discrimination
Some colour loss
Bright light is painful and reduces vision
Colour vision may be normal
Obstacles need to be defined
Diabetic retinopathy
Features of MD and glaucoma
Design requirements -
Pedestrian route
Logical layout
Defined, unobstructed routes
Street furniture
Contrast and lighting
Tactile paving
Cues and clues
Types of tactile surfaces

Most common ones are:

Blister surface
Corduroy surface
Segregated shared cycle track/footway surface
Guidance path
Others include:
Platform edge (off-street) surface
Platform edge (on-street) surface
Information surface
Shared surfaces: issues for blind
and partially sighted people
Guide dog owners, long cane users and those
with no mobility aid rely on the kerb for
Shared Surfaces
The problems
Eye contact
Equal priority
No kerbed footways
Limited or inappropriate tactile paving
Lack of controlled crossings
TNS Research

Survey of 500 blind and partially sighted people

Only 2 liked shared surface streets
9 out of 10 concerned about shared surface
6 out of 10 said avoid them or very reluctant to
use them
Challenging shared surfaces

Shared surfaces discriminate against blind and partially sighted

and other disabled people, effectively excluding them from the
street environment

Clearly defined pedestrian-only paths a safe space must be

provided for safer, independent travel

Footways with kerbs, along with associated dropped kerbs and

tactile paving, must be retained unless an alternative
delineator is demonstrated effective.
Inclusive Streets:
Design principles for blind
and partially sighted people

Ambiguity and uncertainty may instil caution in


but can and does undermine the confidence

and independence of vulnerable pedestrians
Inclusive Streets:
Design principles
Priority for pedestrians
Appropriate traffic speed
Logical layout and reference points
clearly defined, obstacle free, pedestrian routes
Pedestrian crossings
Visual contrast and good quality lighting
Maintenance and management
Inclusive Design

Why do we tend to design for the most able of

our society and then expect the least able to
make do with add on modifications as an
Inclusive design from the drawing board stage
will minimise add-on design for disabled people
Quiet Vehicles

Blind & partially sighted people are concerned

about not hearing quiet vehicles.
Quiet vehicles are near silent at under 20 miles per
Quiet vehicles need to generate a warning sound
under 20 miles per hr.
Blind & partially sighted people would like sound
generated to be like traditional combustion
That these systems should be mandatory to fit by
vehicle manufacturers.
Thank you

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